Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Strong, spacious, three-point self equalizing guy lines.
Cons: Heavy, bulky, hard to set up, very poor ventilation.
Best Uses: High altitude climbing
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
The Black Diamond Fitzroy is a very strong three-person single wall expedition tent. Four moderate quality Easton poles setup from the inside and cross seven times while waterproof-breathable three-layer ePTFE membrane provides durable protection from the elements.
The Fitzroy is one of the strongest single wall tent we've tested, but also one of the most difficult to set up. This is due to its internal pitch that uses 20 small, fragile plastic twist-tie clips to attach the poles. The Fitzroy is the heaviest single wall tent we've tested (7 lb. 1 oz. without its optional vestibule). Its wider footprint makes it less capable of perching on ledges than narrower tents. And there are no dedicated vents – the doors are the only option for air circulation.
Black Diamond hasn't updated the Bibler series in many years and other companies have recently released new tents and updated old ones. The Fitzroy is a very good tent but our testers prefer the Mountain Hardwear EV 3 (for a spacious single wall tent) because it's much faster to pitch, has better ventilation and might be slightly stronger. C'mon BD time to do an update!!!!!!!!!
Check out our complete Four Season Tent Review to compare all of the models tested. Also consider a floorless tent—our testers’ favorite type of shelter for 99% of fast and light trips—found in our Ultralight Tent Review.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Ease of Setup
Of all the single wall tents we’ve tested the Fitzroy is the hardest to pitch. You need to crawl inside the tent and fiddle with flimsy plastic twist tie style pole clips. These are thin, hard to use, painful to twist, and simply bad compared to the pole attachment methods that are used on other single wall tents. For example, most tents (Black Diamond Firstlight, Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2, Nemo Tenshi, etc) use velcro loops that are easier and faster to use. Even better, some tents pitch from the outside. For example, the Sierra Designs Convert 2 and Mountain Hardwear EV 2. All of these other tents are faster and easier to pitch than the Fitzroy.
There are also many double wall tents that pitch faster than the Fitzroy. The Hilleberg Jannu and Hilleberg Nammatj 2 are prime examples.
Though ease of setup is only one factor of many to consider when selecting a tent we are disappointed that Black Diamond hasn’t updated the Fitzroy, or any tent from Bibler series, in more than a decade!!!!!!!!!! The tent’s design is very good but it’s also sorely in need of an update.
ROCK SOLD protection is the worst conditions. No doubt. This tent has been used on many epic climbs all over the world. We found that it’s DRUM TIGHT walls resist fierce gusts like a resilient boxing champion.
The Fitzroy is viable for three people or provides two with more space than enough space. However, we prefer Mountain Hardwear EV 3 because it has a larger “internal vestibule” that increases comfort slightly.
The tent has virtually no ventilation!!
And we find that ventilation is more important than breathability. The Mountain Hardwear EV 3 has much better ventilation. Ditto with basically all other two-person single wall tents. Largely due to this drawback we found that the Fitzroy is more prone to condensation than other tents. Gotta love it when it “snows” inside your tent.
The main advantage here is the three-layer ePTFE membrane that’s similar to those found on the world’s best hardshell jackets. This construction type is used by many tents and is perhaps the most durable single wall tent fabric. The tent corners are heavily reinforced, too. We give this tent 9 out of 10 points for durability because it is super tough.
The tent weighs as little as 68 oz. or 6 lb. 4 oz. This is much heavier than other two-person single wall tents and also heavier than several ultra bomber double wall tents!! For example, the also ROCK SOLD Mountain Hardwear EV 2 weighs more than a pound less. The Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2 weighs less than half as much as the Fitzroy. And the Hilleberg Jannu weighs 3 oz. less and provides more comfort.
The tent must be pitched the same way every time.
We hope that BD updates the Bibler series sometime soon. When they do, the tents will likely be phenomenally good.
High altitude mountaineering.
We feel the Mountain Hardwear EV 3 is a better value.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: March 13, 2014
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